Worth Reading (Fiction)

  • Mamet, David: Chicago: A Novel
    In Roaring 20's Chicago, a Great War veteran turned hard-boiled reporter falls in love with the wrong woman and then seeks to find her killer.
  • Nelson DeMille: The Cuban Affair: A Novel
    Two million dollars to charter a boat for a fishing tournament? A great way for the owner to pay off the boat's mortgage, but it turns out to include slipping into Castro's prison island in search of a lost (and perhaps imaginary) treasure.
  • Kate Atkinson: Life After Life: A Novel
    Ursula Todd has the opportunity to relive her life, over and over and over, moving steadily through the Great War and its sequels and accumulating shards of memory.
  • Connie Willis: Crosstalk: A Novel
    An empathy app leads to complications involving telepathy, Irish women and a true love that runs most unsmoothly. Classic Willis comedy.
  • Mark Steyn: The Prisoner of Windsor
    In a 21st Century sequel to Anthony Hope, the heir to the Ruritanian throne must fill in for the kidnaped Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  • Tim Powers: My Brother's Keeper
    Werewolves, the Brontë sisters, their wayward brother, their heroic dog and a conspiracy to unleash an almost dead deity.
  • Tim Powers: Declare: A Novel
    An intricate Cold War fantasy that seems so plausible that one wonders whether it is the true story of why the Soviet Union rose and collapsed.
  • H.F.M. Prescott: The Man on a Donkey
    Set during the Pilgrimage of Grace, this is the rare historical novel that captures the mindset of the actors. The hero, Robert Aske, was martyred in a way that makes burning at the stake look merciful.
  • Theodore Odrach: Wave of Terror
    Based on the author's experiences when the Soviet Union occupied his homeland after the Stalin-Hitler Pact, this book melds Chekov and Solzhenitsyn. By stages, the isolated folk of the Pripyet Marshes learn that there are worse masters than their former Polish overlords.
  • Simon Montefiore: Sashenka: A Novel
    Both grim and funny, this historical novel peers into the inner world of an upper class Russian girl turned loyal Bolshevik, highlighting her youthful fling at revolution-making in Petrograd, her fall from grace under Stalin, and an historian's effort, after the end of communism, to ascertain her fate.
  • Harry Turtledove: The Man with the Iron Heart
    Can the U.S. maintain its resolve against a defeated enemy's terrorist campaign? Imagining a post-World War II Nazi insurgency, Harry Turtledove puts this question into a new context. As Reinhard von Heydrich's "werewolves" devastate Germany, war-weary Americans call for withdrawal, regardless of the consequences.
  • Neal Stephenson: Anathem
    If you have not a smidgen of interest in how Platonic philosophy relates to the "many worlds" version of quantum mechanics, you still may like this novel, though you'll probably wish that the characters talked less. Persevere. After a slow start, the story grows compelling, and the intellectual dialogues turn out not to be digressions.
  • Alfred Duggan: Lord Geoffrey's Fancy
    Perhaps the finest book of one of England's finest historical novelists. The setting is 13th Century Greece, where Crusaders fought each other and the shattered Byzantine Empire. The history is accurate, the writing graceful and the characters not merely modern people in fancy dress.
  • Rodney Bolt: History Play : The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe
    A pseudo-history springing from the premise that Shakespeare's flashy predecessor survived the famous Deptford brawl and fled to the continent, where he secretly wrote almost all of the Bard's works. A clever, tongue-in-cheek reworking of literary history that also recreates the milieu shared by many real Elizabethan exiles.
  • Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories, Novels, and Essays (Library of America, 131)
    Fiction and essays by a black American writer who deserves a wider audience.
  • Harry Turtledove: Gunpowder Empire
    Debut of a juvenile series set in parallel worlds. 22nd century teen siblings, trapped without adult aid in a besieged city, must cope with the bizarre (to them) customs and prejudices of a never-fallen Roman Empire.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010


If anyone has seen a study of the current state election officials in each state, with their party affiliation, I'd like to see it. The power of these individuals to steal elections should not be underestimated, as I think Norm Coleman did in Minnesota. The first point in the blog above about winning by more than the margin of fraud is extremely well stated. In any close election with an unscrupulous election officer, the graves/felons/illegal immigrants/unverified ballots will win the day....

The GOP has another potentially big political problem that may yet mess us up on E-day, though I'm reluctant to pointt this out because it's so painful from a conservative POV. Still, it's a fact that we have to deal with, that that is that the Tea Party are themselves conflicted about their own goals.

The Tea Party makes a good case for the necessary reductions in spending to balancce the budget and avoid impoverishing our grandchildren. They recognize the need to avoid crushing the private economy under too heavy a load of taxes and regulations and they understand that raising taxes past a certain point reduces tax revenue by reducing activity and driving business overseas.

And yet, when asked specifically about cutting the big-ticket government expenditures, the Tea Partiers tend to echo the same old refrain. Cut Social Security? No. Cut Medicare? No. Cut defense? No. And that's the Tea Partiers! The general public is less eager.

Some Republican candidates feel confident enough right now to talk about eliminating the minimum wage, which is a terrible political error, whatever its economic pros and cons. The general public still likes and approves of FDR's programs, folks. Like it or not, that's the truth.

A big chunk of Obama's disapproval numbers is based on social issues, national
security issues, and a generalized opposition to deficits and intrusive government that doesn't translate into opposition to specifics. A lot of it just Obama's 'attitude', a revulsion from 'man caused disasters', 'bitter clingers', and a brace of radicals in high places, etc.

The general public is still deeply attached to Social Security, Medicare, etc, and Republicas forget that at our peril.

This election cycle,whether national or local, people
are voting the straight Republican ticket in order to
throw the Socialists out. This is as close as the average Joe can come to having a non- violent revolution. Should the Socialists engage in voter fraud that is obvious, and win seats they shouldn't have,
you may see a for real revolution. Vote,and stay active,
2012 is just around the corner.

Are Republicans stupid? I would rather see the Dems remain in control for the next 2 years. Elect some strong conservatives now and then elect a strong conservative president along with the house and senate in 2012. This will give us a better chance of actually changing something. If the Republicans win now, the electorate will blame the Republicans in 2012.

Republicans are socialists too. They just don't realize it.

So which party would you prefer?
a) The party that is openly socialist, or
b) The party that gets duped into going along with socialism all the time?

Republicans, at best, only postpone socialism. They never reverse socialism.

I can't get very excited about this election.

Countries come and go..... no need to weep about it.

More reasons to not get cocky:

6. Democrats have what will be a huge rally with very popular stars just before the election. The media will use this to whip up enthusiasm for the left and demotivate the right. It will work to some degree. How much is the question.

7. Democrats are ALREADY cheating like never before. They have already "accidentally" forgotten to send out military ballots in a number of important areas. They have already refused to purge voter rolls -- making ballot box stuffing that much easier. They have already been caught trading votes for food in South Dakota, running spoiler candidates, and you can bet this is just scratching the surface.

8. October surprises wont come until late next week and right up until a few days before the election. There will be many. Some true, some complete lies. It wont matter, they will all be reported as truth.

9. Democrats undermined our nation's own war efforts to get back in power, and blocked reform that experts warned would cause a financial crisis if it was not passed to get back in power after being out of power for 12 years. There is NOTHING they wont do to retain power now that they have it.

I fully expect fraud on a scale our country has never seen before.

Reason #6: historically, the most accurate predictor of election outcomes is incumbency. In most modern-era elections incumbents win 96-98% of the time. The powers of incumbancy are immense, and will not be easily cast away, even for one election.

I do not deny Democratic fraud, whether in WA, MN, Philadelphia, wherever. I only question its impact on anything other than a very close race. 5% is way off. That can mean tens of thousands of votes - even ACORN ain't that good! If the post had emphasized that I would have agreed.
As for Defcon One, i admit to being somewhat perplexed by the meaning of that in the original post. OK - Obama can use the veto, but how damaging can this be over two years? Put the US out of business? What does that mean?
I despise Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Democrats as much as anyone, but exaggerating their threat isn't helpful. And, contrary to Walt, I would argue that ballyhooing the GOP lead helps excite people - especially people (like me) who live in recently solid Democratic districts/states that just might go Red this cycle. Anyway, all the Democratic ballyhooing in 2006 and 2008 didn't seem to hurt them too much. Why is that? Because, to go back to a point in my earlier comment, of the enthusiasm gap. Isn't it possible that the excitement amongst Republicans further dispirits Democrats? I don't pretend to understand mass psychology, but the fact that I am typing this (and that you are reading it) is proof that we are not typical voters. I'll vote no matter what - I've never missed an election of any kind in 25 years - but I don't know how less committed voters respond to ballyhooing.
Besides, I would say Republicans and the Tea Parties are fighting, and will continue to after Nov 2. I have no fear about that. In fact, I think the ballyhooing is helping turn up the heat - keeps people enthused.
One last point - the optimism is based on reality. We have plenty of evidence that something big is happening - plenty. The ballyhooing is hardly just wishful thinking. Americans are angry and fretful, and eager to send a message. Again, there is plenty of evidence to support optimism

have my doubts about whether the rather unimaginative and timid Republican Congressional leadership can devise a deterrent.

Fine, I'll create it for them:

Promise Federal workers that, if there's a government shutdown, no Federal Worker who is put on furlough will ever get paid so much as one penny from the time he or she is on furlough / the government is "shut down". No vacation pay, no comp time, nothing. Pass that in every budget that is passed, and watch the Dems run for the hills.

The Democrats in the House and Senate are owned by the SEIU. If the SEIU leadership wants to remain in place, Obama won't get his 1/3.

The larger the pool of republicans winning seats in congress, the more likely there will be democrats who will be willing to meet them "halfway." That means, in the senate: Brown, Collins, Snowe, Sanders, Lieberman, Ms. Lindsay Graham, and perhaps? Mitch McConnell. And, Michael Steele. Will all look for some moderate position that means nothing. But creates legislation. Heck, even John McCain will flash his name around, if he is given "banner headline status."

Now, if Christine O'Donnell wins in Delaware, Mitch McConnell could give her office keys to a broom closet! (If she loses in Delaware? She writes a book ... and terrifies Mitch McConnell!)

The anger level among the People will not dissipate, disappear, or recede. You can't fool me. Just like Pearl Harbor was the "day that shall live in infamy," so, too, will be the reality of having WOKEN THE SLEEPING GIANT ... once referred to as "fly over" country. All the players in the media; and all the players in hollywood, are aging. Wave after wave of changes are ahead.

Better to be pessimistic and wrong than optimistic and wrong. If Republicans and the tea party don't fight, fight, fight, they could still lose big. Some of these fears might be overblown, some not, but we should take them all seriously. I also think the margin of fraud is quite accurate--especially when considering Al Franken. In fact in Illinois that margin may be low; it's not just an open secret but widely known that the state is synonymous with election fraud.

And your last paragraph somewhat contradicts itself, Mike. Whether Obama uses the veto because he's deliberately putting a second term on the line or because he is oblivious to the will of the people, it's still a veto, which is the original point. The man's motives are meaningless if the result is the same either way. I personally think Obama is such an ideologue that he believes that if he pushes his agenda as hard as he can then the public will come around to his way of thinking and reelect him. The one-term comment was meaningful only in the sense that it opens a window into his psyche, that he sees himself as a man doing the right thing against all odds and wants to go down in history as the man who pushed through the great big progressive agenda that will surely lead to utopia. But whatever I think, we won't see a repeal of Obamacare until 2013. Until then however, a Republican Congress could probably gut significant portions of it with his grudging approval, like that idiotic 1099 requirement.

Mike S, take a look at the record of the 2004 Governor's Race in the State of Washington.

Every time a recount showed the Democrat behind, new ballots were mysteriously "found" somewhere, somehow, and miraculously, they always narrowed the lead! For example, see this post and this one from the very thorough Sound Politics coverage of that particular race. Wander through their archives of November and December 2004 to see how crazy that race became.

Never, I say again, never underestimate Democrat fraud potential.

I agree the reasoning is weak but the message is sound. Nonetheless, the 5th point is way off base. If the Federal Gov't did absolutely nothing for the next two years, it would be an improvement over the last two.

How is "putting the country at Defcon One" not failing his oath of office? The President is promising to take it to the mat, and he might not be happy with the people who are not happy with him.

Oh, come on. I don't want Republicans to get cocky, either, but your reasons are weak. Fraud? I don't believe for a second that it's worth 5% of the vote - that's just paranoia. Enthusiasm gap? Sure an unenthusiastic vote counts as much as an enthusiastic one, but there are far more of the latter cast! That's the point. There will be far more Democratic inclined voters this year who decide to sit it out than Republican - a reverse of 2008 (and 2006). As for lying, yeah it works, unfortunately. But this time around people are paying far more attention, as your example of foreign money makes clear. That attack - that lie - failed, and actually seems to have harmed the Democrats in the process. Grayson's lies aren't working, nor have Reid's. Lies work when the average voter is apathetic. Not the case this year.
And I would argue the same is true, to some extent, about money. The money advantage will lessen Democratic losses - you are correct. It means that some races that might otherwise be competitive, won't be. But again, money matters less when an electorate is fired up and paying attention. Besides, Democratic money is being spent on an empty platform. People want to vote FOR something - not just against something. By voting Republican people accomplish both - against Democrats, and for repeal of their measures.
Finally, your post-election comments are irrelevant to the post, but you're wrong there, too. Do you really believe Obama doesn't care about a second term? Come on - did someone slip you the Kool-AId? Of course he wants a second term! But who cares? The question is whether he has the political savvy to compromise. He doesn't.

What possible good can it do to ballyhoo the GOP lead in poles. If it keeps one conservative home or one tin foil baby to vote its a mistake

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Books by Tom Veal

Worth Reading (Non-Fiction)